Sports

Eagle girls’ hoop tops Hornets, advances to D-II final

BARRE — The No. 6 seed Mount Abraham girls’ basketball team staved off a fourth-quarter rally by No. 2 Enosburg on Wednesday night in a Division II semifinal at the Barre Auditorium to win, 52-48.

The 16-8 Eagles advanced to meet No. 4 Spaulding (18-4) in the championship game on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. back at the Aud. On Wednesday they made the program’s first appearance in Barre since 2019, and they are seeking the program’s first title since 2018.

Mount Abe Coach Connie LaRose said the Eagles made the plays when they had to against the 18-3 Hornets.

“I’m so proud of them. That’s the first thing I said to them when we got into the locker room after the game,” LaRose said. “They’re gritty. They work hard every day in practice. They’ve been receptive to learning. No issues, no nonsense going on … They just come in and listen and do to the best of their ability.”

The end of Wednesday night’s game was certainly dramatic.

In he closing minute, senior Abby Reen rebounded a Hornet miss and got the ball in transition to junior Maia Jensen. Jensen passed up an open look from the three-point line and attacked the paint. With 21 seconds left, junior Jensen’s floater in the lane rolled around the rim and into the hoop to put the Eagles up, 50-48.

After a timeout, the Hornets gave the ball to Lily Robtoy, and she drove the left side of the lane. Her shot came up short at the rim as Eagle junior Peyton Vincent, Reen and senior Laura Bonar all defended.

Vincent scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter to keep the Eagles afloat as the Hornets swarmed Reen and Jensen, Mount Abe’s leading scorers

With a little time left on the clock, Vincent tied up a Hornet for the rebound, and the arrow pointed the Eagles’ way.

Mount Abe worked the ball inbounds to Reen, and Enosburg had to foul. Reen, who hit nine of her 10 free-throw attempts and was the only Eagle with experience playing at the Aud, sank both ends of a one-and-one with seven seconds left to nail down the win.

The dramatic finish capped a back-and-forth game. After the first quarter ended at 9-9, Reen and Jensen combined for all 12 of the Eagle points in the second period as Mount Abe took a 21-17 lead at the half. Reen scored the final five points of the period to erase a 17-16 Enosburg lead.

The teams traded the lead in the third period as Robtoy and Emily Adams attacked the basket successfully for Enosburg. A Kayla Gervais three-pointer made it 29-25, Enosburg, at 3:40 of the third.

The Eagles answered with a 16-4 run to close the quarter and take a 41-33 lead entering the fourth. Jensen sparked the run by hitting a three, stealing the ball and feeding junior Madi Gile for a layup, and hitting another three on a set-up from Reen.

Junior Lucy Parker scored in transition, Reen hit a bucket in the lane after another Jensen steal, and Reen capped the surge with a three after a Gile offensive board. Only Robtoy’s two drives answered for Enosburg.

The Hornets ramped up the defensive intensity in the fourth, however, and Robtoy scored 11 of her 19 points in the period. She tied the game at 46-46 with two free throws at 1:57, and at 48-48 with another move to the basket at 1:32. Adams added two of her 12 points into the mix for Enosburg.

But Vincent did enough for Mount Abe at the other end to offset the Hornet surge. She converted a feed from Parker, powered to the hoop for two, put back a miss, and hit a free throw to set up the Eagles’ late heroics — including the most important of Reen’s 19 points and Jensen’s 18.

LaRose said the Eagles know Spaulding, which defeated them in Barre this season by 26 points, will pose a challenge. But Mount Abe plans to show up on Saturday after consecutive wins over the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds.

“We’re happy to be there,” she said.

THE 2021-2022 MOUNT ABE GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TEAM

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